1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2014
Much like Lee Dorrian did when he exited the fold of Napalm Death and founded doom/gloom metal project Cathedral, so did Karl Sanders, the frontman for Egyptian-themed death metal gods Nile, who branched off with an eponymous experimental music side project. The sound captured by Dorrian in Cathedral’s 1990 debut (and, moreover, 1992’s breakthrough release, “Ethereal Mirror”) was one that was much different than the one heard by Napalm, but it was unsurprisingly a very high-quality effort nonetheless. And the same can be said about Sanders’ solo debut, 2004’s “Saurian Meditation.”
So, just so we’re clear: There are absolutely no brutal guitar licks, mind-boggling gravity blasts, or snarly death metal growls to be had, here. But just because this album is different does not mean it is bad by any stretch of the imagination. Quite the opposite is proved to be true, in fact -- because this is actually a very inventive and memorable body of art. Painstakingly written, well-played, finely crafted, and relentlessly dark, “S.M.” is sure to leave a favorable long-lasting impression, no matter how quiet and melodic it may be.
“Awaiting The Vultures” is one extremely dark, somber, and contemplative introductory soundscape, lemme tell ya! And it is comprised of ominous, Japanese-gong-esque cymbal crashes, a proggy and atmospheric string arrangement, and faint, echoing out vocals. Needless to say, it all makes for one terrifically, hauntingly ambient piece, and a good, retrospective mood-setter. “Of The Sleep Of Ihstar,” with its gently tapped tribal percussion, memorable, haunting, echoing out vocals, and beautifully-picked strings (that are tastefully and periodically woven into the mix), is even more of an epic, though. And this breathtaking, nine-and-a-half minute long piece is also highlighted by a nice bit of jazzy melodic soloing, too, as a way of adding significant texture and color to the mix without getting too psychedelic or post-modern (i.e. “weird for the sake of weird”)
Next comes “Luring The Doom Serpent,” an instrumental interlude that, with its beautiful, fleet-fingered flamenco guitar sweeping, recalls “Chaos A.D.”-era Sepultura; and “Contemplations Of The Endless Abyss,” another chilling soundscape completed by haunting backing vocals and atmospherically resonating drum beats. And after that we get “The Elder God Shrine,” which adopts one of the album’s most memorable curveballs by filtering in some unexpectedly wild, searing, and shred-happy electric guitar soloing. It is all almost enough to make you temporarily think that somebody popped in a Nile record into your stereo without you noticing; although the fact that this towering, 7.5 minute long epic album centerpiece is primarily layered in mournful acoustic guitar plucking and a martial-sounding drum beat that is positively rhythmic, quickly extinguishes any such notion.
“Temple Of Lunar Ascension” is another piece of almost full-on doom metal, what thanks to its copious use of ambient Gregorian-chant-esque vocals and momentous power chords, although it does let in some more colorful acoustic guitar textures just for good measure. And elsewhere, “Whence No Traveler Returns” finds still more delightfully infectious, nimble-fingered melodic guitar work and proggy acoustic soloing entering the fray, as a way of texturing the arrangements nicely. And elsewhere, the record is rounded out by “Dreaming Through The Eyes Of Serpents,” “The Forbidden Path Across The Chasm Of Self-Realization,” and “Beckon The Sick Winds Of Pestilence,” three other superbly haunting, trance-inducing, spell-binding, and terrifically dark, moody, doomy, and ambient pieces. (The second of these three songs stands out, however, for featuring a dramatic, spoken-word dialogue that pops up around the three and a half minute mark, and is utilized to almost startling effect.)
Again, it must be noted that any listener who comes to this album hoping to find viscerally-satisfying sonic brutality will be sorely disappointed. But those who don’t mind a giving a records that require a little bit of patience (as “Saurian Meditation” does get better with time), and favor of opulent soundscapes, subtle nuances, multiple sonic layers, and dynamic textures over sheer volume and velocity will be in store for quite a little treat.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2012
As an avid Nile fan, I decided I had to buy this. It turned out not to be exactly what I expected, but great nonetheless. Each track is unique enough to stand alone, yet is cohesive to the whole album. I initially expected to hear more of the type of Egyptian themed music from certain Nile tracks. Not any metal, just more truly Egyptian type music. While that did not manifest, one cannot help but feel as though transported to a mythical desert landscape.
If you like Nile, buy this album.
If you like meditative music, buy this album.
If you like music in the vein of Dead Can Dance, buy this album.
If you want to have a good album playing in the background of a social gathering, buy this album.
If you want to have something you can just sit and let the music create imagery to take you far away, buy this album.
If you want music to actually meditate to or uplift you, you should probably skip this one.
on August 16, 2009
The album as a whole is very diverse and atmospheric from beginning to end. No two songs sound the same, and each one is memorable in its own way. Achieving this with mostly instrumentals takes a bit of talent. The end result is a morbid and hypnotic depiction of the beauty of the abyss, lamented across the winds of the deserts that embody it.
Awaiting the Vultures - This track's impression on me is of something potent, deeply ominous, and definitely in motion... it has its way of 'slithering' through the crevices in your brain.
Dreaming Through The Eyes Of Serpents - Deeply soothing, powerfully mesmerizing... it's even a little catchy. This is the 'meditation' part of the album.
Beckon The Sick Winds Of Pestilence - A dark, sinister mantra without words. Definitely the eeriest song I've heard in a while. In my opinion this last track, along with the first, are the more easily accessible ones - whereas the others just tend to grow on you.